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What Are Your Startup’s Moments Of Truth?

One of the most fundamental requirements for shaping a successful startup is truly understanding who your ideal customer is and which of their needs your startup product can satisfy. 

As an entrepreneur, you understand the importance of speaking with customers and how the insights you gain from customer interviews can mean the difference between building an OK product or a great solution. More specifically, the interviews will help you identify your startup’s moments of truth in the customer journey.

A Moment of Truth essentially means a time in the overall customer experience when your customers are likely to form or change an impression about your product, service, or business. Understanding when this moment is happening for your customers can allow you to incorporate relevant product features and design effective marketing communication.

The first step in that direction is to identify how to reach out to potential customers, who may or may not be aware of the problem that your startup app idea is solving. For this, you need a stimulus.

Stimulus means communicating the value to a potential market segment using various online and offline channels. As your value proposition and target market change, your stimulus can change. Once your potential customers have received sufficient stimulus, they will likely start their own research about your startup. This marks your startup’s Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT).

1. Zero Moment Of Truth

Winning the ZMOT simply means showing up and standing out to the customer in a world where buyers have numerous online resources to evaluate your solution and alternative options at their fingertips.

To create a positive ZMOT, you need both. If you show up (good marketing) without standing out (bad product), you will lose customers as fast as you acquire them. And if you have a product that stands out but no marketing to show it off, you will always be leaving money on the table.

For an early-stage startup, customer interviews are the first step for understanding where your customers look when searching for a solution and what influences their buying decisions. Those insights will not only help you design a marketing plan where you participate in every step and channel of your customers’ search process, but also understanding what your customers particularly look for is what will help you develop a startup app idea that stands out.

2. First Moment Of Truth

This is when the customer has finally done sufficient research about your startup and is now in the store and at the “shelf” to buy your offering. They took the time to understand what makes your product different and it’s about time they decide to buy or pass.

This is a critical time for an early-stage startup since your product may not be as established as other existing solutions and neither is your brand, which makes your job convincing customers harder. Here’s how to capture customer attention in the earliest stages.

Don’t wait for your first buyers to come. Even today’s biggest startups like Uber, Stripe, Dropbox, Groupon, and DoorDash hustled to “recruit” their first customers door to door, the old-fashioned way. Those first customers will play a significant role in convincing strangers to buy, people you’ve never spoken or interacted with before. 

For example, Dropbox and Robinhood created a demo video that went viral, allowing them to acquire tens of thousands of users before they had even finished their products. Besides creating a product that stood out, one of the reasons their videos went viral was because they had a list of accelerators, people who knew what they were working on and had a lot of interest in their solution, who started the viral loop by sharing and spreading the word.

Finally, the obvious. Write good copy that speaks to your buyers and their needs, minimize acquisition friction through trials if this fits your revenue model, and personalize customer experience through personal assistance in ways the big companies can’t.

3. Second Moment Of Truth

The second moment of truth (SMOT) occurs when the customer has purchased your solution and experienced its benefits. Do they see the promised value or are they leaving?

At this time, customers are in and once they’re in, it’s cheaper to keep them than acquire new ones. A positive SMOT will not only keep your customers but also prompt them to leave reviews and testimonials, which in turn can become the ZMOT for future customers.

In sum, in its most basic form, understanding your startup’s moment of truth is about figuring out your startup’s who, what, and why. Who is your ideal buyer? What problem do they need to solve? And why is your solution the best option for them? If you answer these three questions, you will not have a problem answering the how. How do you capture your ideal customer’s attention?

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